SER-UW Nursery Expansion

Project Size: Large, >$1,000
Estimated Amount to be requested from the CSF: $40,114

Letter of Intent:

SER-UW Nursery Expansion

 

Since its establishment in 2013, the Society for Restoration Ecology (SER) native plant nursery has housed over 1500 native plants, 500 of which have been installed in Whitman Walk and Kincaid Ravine, both CSF funded restoration projects. The nursery involves over 50 students each quarter in work parties that educate participants about horticultural practices and the value of native plants in our urban and wild landscapes.  This March, the nursery successfully held its first plant sale, which demonstrated both a demand for native plants in the UW community, and our ability to reach out to that community.

Currently, the SER nursery has one table within a shared hoop house and most of the plants are kept outside. This is not an ideal situation for many of our salvaged plants, which need low light conditions. In order to scale up and provide better care for our plants we need a larger growing space and more shaded space. We would like to expand the nursery by building a new hoop house and creating more programing opportunities that would directly benefit MEH and ESRM students, and the greater UW community.

Our specific goals for the expansion of the nursery program in the 2015-2016 academic year are as follows:

1) Grow plants for a selection of targeted projects, including one MEH student project, one campus capital development project, and a general suite of natives for the UW-REN Restoration Capstone course, the North American restoration course, Yessler Swamp, Kincaid Ravine, and Whitman Walk.  

2) Manage quarterly interns as they assist us with marketing and outreach, collating propagation protocols, and general nursery upkeep.  

3) Develop a long term plan to support the nursery and associated positions by identifying additional sources of funding.

In order to accomplish these goals, the SER nursery would like support from the Campus Sustainability Fund to:

1) Build a hoop house for our native plant stock.  The design will incorporate a rainwater collection system to supplement water needed for irrigation, and will also double as a shade house during the summer months.  

2) Provide a 9-month stipend for two part-time nursery managers.

3) Acquire additional plant production materials to supplement the resources already available at the Center for Urban Horticulture.

Environmental Impact

The SER nursery will facilitate the installation of planting projects throughout campus by providing high quality, easily accessible, and affordable plant materials.  These projects provide valuable ecosystem functions to our urban landscape; the CUH rain garden, for example, will improve stormwater filtration and groundwater recharge.  Growing plants in house for this and similar projects closes an important loop in both plant material acquisition and CSF funding, allowing these projects to become mutually supportive.   Locally grown plants also reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and other costs associated with plant acquisition.

The SER nursery will also work carefully to limit the amount of inorganic nitrogen and phosphorous applied to plants, which could have a negative impact on surrounding aquatic ecosystems through nutrient runoff.  When available, alternative methods will be used to ensure that plants nutrient levels are sufficient.  

Student Leadership & Involvement

SER-UW is a completely student run organization with a mixture of undergrads and graduate students as officers and members. At the plant nursery, students participate by potting plants, organizing our stock, watering, and starting seeds. A CSF grant would allow us to increase the frequency and variety of work parties.

Each quarter the nursery managers will coordinate an internship for one undergraduate student looking to get more involved in nursery management and plant production.  Each internship will have a different focus: marketing in the fall, creating a protocol manual in the winter, and plant production in the spring.

Education, Outreach, & Behavior Change

The nursery managers will directly benefit from the ability to experiment with different plant production protocols and fulfilling contracts. A valuable mentor-mentee relationship will also be fostered between the quarterly interns and the nursery managers.

Weekly drop-in work days will increase our visibility on campus, teach volunteers about the benefits of native plants in both urban and wild landscapes, and challenge participants to learn new horticultural skills.  Volunteers will learn that native plants require less water and fertilizer than many ornamental plants, and might consider using them in their own backyards.  Yessler Swamp, UBNA, a rain garden, and the UW Farm pollinator project are all within short walking distance of the SER nursery, and will be used to demonstrate the potential applications of native plants.  

Feasibility, Accountability, & Sustainability

The project will be managed by two part-time nursery managers. The Education and Outreach Coordinator will maintain our social media presence and organize volunteer events. The Nursery Coordinator will secure plant contracts and develop our planting plan.  Both will collaborate on weekly work parties, managing interns, and maintaining our plant stock.  

Kelly Broadlick and Anna Carragee will fill these two positions. Each has previous professional experience working in native plant nurseries, with specific experience in plant propagation, seed collection, and nursery maintenance.  Currently, Anna is the SER native plant salvage coordinator and Kelly is the production assistant at Oxbow Nursery, and one of the co-managers of the SER nursery. Both Anna and Kelly are enrolled in the spring ESRM courses Native Plant Production and Plant Propagation.

Approval from CUH faculty and UWBG staff will be submitted at the time of the full proposal. Potential project partners are Dr. Kern Ewing, Dr. Sarah Reichard (Director of UWBG), Dr. Jon Bakker (SER advisor), David Zuckerman (Manager of Horticulture at UWBG), Fred Hoyt (Associate Director of UWBG), Matt Schwartz (Sustainable Stormwater Coordinator and Kincaid Ravine Project Manager), Yessler Swamp, UW Grounds, ESRM 100 students, and SER members.  A Memorandum of Understanding will be drafted between the SER nursery and UWBG, outlining responsibilities and liabilities between the two parties.

Budget Estimate

In total we request $40,114. This will allow $16,614 for manager stipends (based off Schedule 1 RA position for 9 months, split equally between the two managers), $3,000 for plant production materials and $20,500 for hoop house installation.

 

Primary Contact First & Last Name: Kelly Broadlick